Following the revelation of new details Tuesday about former Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne’s participation in a White House meeting last December with then-President Donald Trump and others, the U.S. House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol now wants to interview Byrne on Friday.
Driving the news: According to a Tuesday committee statement by Maryland Democratic Congressman Jamie Raskin, Byrne, along with attorney Sidney Powell and former national security adviser Michael Flynn showed up at the White House on Dec. 18, gained access from a junior staffer and made their way to the Oval Office, where they were able to speak with the president alone for more than 10 minutes before White House officials learned of the gathering and ran into the room, per NPR.
“What ensued was a heated and profane clash between this group and President Trump’s White House advisers, who traded personal insults, accusations of disloyalty to the president and even challenges to physically fight,” Raskin said, adding that the meeting was best described by the testimony of those who were in the room — as well as those outside who could hear the shouting coming from inside.
The outside advisers met with Trump for 10 to 15 minutes before, as Powell put it, “I bet Pat Cipollone set a new land speed record” trying to intervene. Cipollone testified that he didn’t think they were providing the president with good advice and wasn’t sure how they got into the building (He recalled the first thing he said to the “Overstock person” was “Who are you?”), NPR reports.
Former White House lawyer Eric Herschmann said Flynn brought diagrams to show a conspiracy theory involving Venezuela and communications via internet-connected thermostats. He recalled siding with Cipollone against the outside advisers, asking repeatedly for them to provide evidence for their claims and testifying that they showed “a general disregard for the importance of backing up what you say with the facts.”
After the meeting finally ended around midnight, Cassidy Hutchinson, the White House aide who testified at the most recent hearing, wrote in a text message that “the West Wing is UNHINGED.”
Byrne is headed for the hot seat, again: Byrne led the Utah-based online retailing giant Overstock.com for some two decades before resigning in 2019 amid widespread fallout after public comments he made about his involvement in a government “deep state” conspiracy related to the 2016 federal election process.
Byrne earned headlines at the time following a statement he released responding to a blog post that detailed his involvement in the federal government’s investigation into the 2016 election as well as his personal relationship with a Russian woman named Maria Butina, who was later convicted for her role as a secret agent for Russia.
Byrne characterized himself as “the notorious ‘missing Chapter 1’ of the Russian investigation” and called the federal agents he claims to have assisted in three investigations as “the Men in Black.”
Byrne has been a longtime Trump supporter and now, thanks to his involvement in the December White House meeting, the select committee is interested in hearing more about his role in the events leading up to the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection.
“He’ll be here for a transcribed interview,” Democratic Congressman and Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson told The New York Times. “We’re looking forward to that. He was one of the people in the White House late night talking about the stop the steal rally and other things.”